Socialist Worker

Bus drivers vow to keep up the fight as they begin their 13th week of walkouts

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2586

Bus workers on the picket line

Bus workers on the picket line (Pic: Unite North West 159/Twitter)

Manchester bus drivers vowed to keep fighting this week as they kicked off their 13th week of strikes.

The Unite union members at the First Bus depot in Rusholme have been fighting for pay parity since September last year. They are are now striking every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on alternate weeks.

Workers are currently paid up to £5,000 a year less than workers at a First Bus depot just a few miles down the road.

Drivers voted unanimously on Monday’s picket line to send an invitation to bosses for talks at the Acas conciliation service.

Driver Howard said, “We’re looking for £10.50 an hour now, with a written promise pay will go up to the other depots’ rate by 2020.”

Trade unionists have been holding solidarity protests from 4am on strike days that have stopped buses from leaving the depot.

Managers called police last month after scab buses had to stay in the depot. Some routes are tendered by the council—and if First Bus fail to run these, they are fined. Striker Robert said support for the strike had been “amazing”.

The strike remains solid. Robert said, “No more people have been persuaded to go back in.”

Bosses are running a much reduced service on an army of scab managers recruited from as far afield as Scotland and Bristol.

Despite bosses claiming they were “doing everything we can to resolve the situation”, Robert said they “weren’t moving” at all.

Robert is confident they can win. “We’ve picked up momentum before, we can do it again,” he said.

First Bus is part of FirstGroup, which reported a profit of £37 million in its bus operations last year. Yet First Bus managing director in Greater Manchester Phil Meddlicott regularly tells strikers that there is no money to pay them.

Everyone should join the solidarity protests at Rusholme depot and support the drivers in getting the pay rise they deserve.

Joint fundraiser with the Mears strikers—Unite workers Band Aid, 14 January, 2-8pm at the White House Club, 193 Middleton Road, M8 4JZ

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